I stride through the labyrinth of market stalls, each seeking my attention, but I am not persuaded by the bright and shiny colours of their wares. There is but one place I need to be right now and finally, I emerge outside and see the sign: COFFEE.
I humbly slow down as I enter into the confessional, passing as I do a small, round stained glass window. Above me, the roof echoes the colours of the stained glass. The walls of the room are white and lined with shelves burdened with artefacts for the converted – bags containing the precious beans and equipment guaranteed to help one find eternal divinity. Ahead of me resides the altar on which the most cherished of all relics stands – a beast of a coffee machine, sleek, low and shiny like a race car. It is aptly named the Spirit Triplette and gleams brightly in the small space, beckoning me forth with promises for the devoted.
Today, I have the choice of two blessings – Reuben Hills, a coffee blended in Sydney, beans from Ethiopia and Kenya and asserted to be a unique opportunity not to be missed; or a Jorge Alberto blend, beans originating from Honduras and a firm favourite. Both sound good. Luckily, I am here with a friend and we order an espresso of each to try.
We sit down on the damp lawn chairs outside and wait for the coffees to arrive. The light is bright this morning but we are shielded from its glare by the green of the umbrella mimicking the leafy canopies of the streetscape. I sit back and watch other pilgrims enter and receive consolation – a pair of businessmen with jovial laughs; two weary parents manoeuvring a stroller; a young woman in oversized sunnies, leggings and thongs; a couple of labourers in work boots and fluoro vests.
Soon, the espressos arrive. I pause and give thanks to Pope Clement, for which this place is named. Legend dictates that Pope Clement VIII pardoned the ban on consuming coffee in 1600 by declaring: “This devil’s drink is so delicious…we should cheat the devil by baptizing it.” The Reuben Hills is smooth with a hint of citrus. The Jorge Alberto is honey sweet. Both are delicious, just as Pope Clement decreed. A sense of calmness courses through my body and my spirit relaxes. Armed with my daily sacrament, I am now ready to face the day.